Shaping the future of healthcare from an equality, diversity and human rights perspective

The role of the EDC is to help shape the future of healthcare from an equality, diversity and human rights perspective, and to improve the quality of care for all. In the first of series of blogs, co-chair of the Equality and Diversity Council (EDC), Joan Saddler provides an update from the most recent quarterly meeting and offers an insight into the latest thinking behind the programme of work.

We work through NHS England, other partner organisations and stakeholders to facilitate influence and to empower. The strength of the council lies with its members and associated organisations and representations.

The work of EDC is driven forward by three core themes with five key goals for forming successes for the next two years:

  • Theme 1 – Inclusive Workplaces – Leadership, system and culture change to create inclusive workplaces. Goals: Creating inclusive workplaces and reducing bullying
  • Theme 2 – Workforce Equality – Continuous improvements in helping to ensure services and workplaces are free from discrimination. Goals: Eliminating discriminatory practice and improving organisational performance on equality.
  • Theme 3 – Inclusive Healthcare – Equity of access to services and improved outcomes for protected groups and people with lived experience of stark inequalities. Goal: Improving access and outcomes particularly for protected and disadvantaged groups

In our last meeting, we had an engaging and interactive session with a busy agenda and it was great to see so many people attending from our member organisations.

There are two key decisions that I think are worth highlighting from the meeting, both of which will have an impact on the wider NHS. These are:

  • The effect of Brexit on the workforce
  • Experiences of disabled colleagues

Paul Deemer from NHS Employers and Ram Jassi from University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, gave an excellent verbal presentation about the impact of Brexit on NHS workforce especially colleagues from the European Union and black and minority ethnic (BME) communities, working in the health and care sector.

From my point of view, it was extremely pleasing to see strong leadership models on approaching this matter and the council acknowledged feedback from members.

I also want to thank Southampton NHS Trust, for sharing a number of their approaches on addressing some of these challenges and the support given to staff.

As well as supporting the national campaign initiated by NHS Employers on Twitter under the hashtag #LoveOurEUStaff, it is increasingly important that leaders continue to demonstrate values based leadership supporting all staff groups and this was a message that was reinforced during the meeting.

The second key topic we discussed looked at, the experiences of disabled colleagues.

Building on the successful mandating of the Workforce Race Equality Standards (WRES) in April 2015, the EDC agreed to start work on additional workforce equality standards.

The findings of a 2015, Middlesex and Bedfordshire Universities and Disability Rights UK research into the experiences of disabled people working in the NHS has urged the EDC to carry out an engagement process with a view to introducing a Workforce Disability Equality Standard (WDES). I am very pleased to see NHS England commit to mandating the WDES in April 2018.

Finally, to keep up to date and informed about the work of the programme, remember you can also follow us on twitter @NHS_EDC

Joan Saddler

Joan Saddler is Associate Director of Patients and Communities at the NHS Confederation.

She was formerly National Director of Patient and Public Affairs based within the Patient and Public Engagement and Experience Division at the Department of Health. Areas of responsibility included NHS and 3rd sector liaison, complaints, local involvement networks (LINks) and transition to Healthwatch.

As a former PCT Chair and Mental Health trust Non Executive Joan also brings a governance lens to her work along with her experience as a Chief Executive within the community and voluntary sector.

Joan was awarded an OBE for services to Health and Diversity in 2007. Her experience informs her role working with the Chief Executive of NHS England as Co-Chairs of the NHS Equality and Diversity Council.


  1. Malcolm Linton says:

    Inequality is rampant in the NHS i work within the NHS and i am surrounded by white only managers and supervisors its disgraceful.A white manager can recieve training funds running into tens of thousands of pounds and a lowly ethnic minority cant get a penny,im sorry but all cultures pay into the NHS and this makes me so angry,spread it about for crying out loud. Is that what is acceptable when these so called equality analysis are carried out, shocking absolutely shocing.

  2. Tim Brown says:

    Joan should be commended for co-chairing the EDC. It pains me as a black citizen and somebody with over 20 years NHS experience to witness Doncaster CCG and its partners be complicit in allowing the BME health needs assessment and action plan to be over 14 years out of date.

    From reading the NHS and EDC website, I am aware that this behaviour is unlawful and is likely to increase the mortality and morbidity rates of black and minority ethnic people in Doncaster.

    There are some good people in the NHS. And yet high level racism continues and there is little or no accountability .

    If there is a correlation between having no BME health needs assessment and a protected group dying prematurely or increasingly being affected by disease type what role does EDC play to safeguard BME citizens rights re NHS Constitution and Human Rights Act.

    This is asked in the context of black citizens politely asking for their rights only to be fobbed off by the NHS and partners !

    • NHS England says:

      Hi Tim

      Thank you for bringing to our attention the health inequalities that exist for black and minority ethnic communities. These are reflective of the general picture we see across the country and would expect to be positively tackled in a planned and sustainable way.

      It is right that in order to begin to tackle these inequalities, data and evidence is absolutely crucial and should draw upon various sources, including the Joint Strategic Needs Assessments (JSNAs). Every council is required to produce a JSNA and NHS organisations require such information to ensure relevant local services. As part of this process, a wide range of data and information should be reviewed, as well as the views of people who use services or live in the local communities. This allows the identification of the key issues affecting the health and well-being of people and should lead to agreed commissioning priorities that will improve outcomes and reduce health inequalities.

      The NHS Equality and Diversity Council (NHS EDC) is an advisory body that is working to provide visible leadership on equality issues across healthcare services. We want to ensure that organisation’s fulfil their responsibilities to provide high quality services for everyone. The EDC will shortly be setting its programme of work for the next period – underpinned by the duty for NHS organisations to respond to the Equality Act 2010, including eliminating discrimination and providing equality of opportunity between groups with characteristics given protection under the Act.

      With developments in new ways of working across the healthcare architecture, it will be essential for joint working across systems, as well as individual organisational accountability, to ensure the delivery of improved services for all communities and groups. As the healthcare system evolves and shapes, we have a major opportunity to re-embed the NHS Constitution throughout the NHS and make sure everyone counts. We recognise that this will be one of the key goals for all that the EDC does going forward.

      Kind Regards
      NHS England

  3. KASSANDER says:

    Where are the P&P reps on the EDC, plz?
    The ones selected and elected by the P&P ourselves?
    The ones who report back to their defined constituents, and are responsible to us for the messages which we ask them to carry from the grass roots P&P?
    NOT the ones that NHS E has chosen to speak for us.
    WE own Our=NHS
    WE should chose Our=Reps


  4. Jon Ward says:

    I would like to alert Joan Sadler to the risk of a new class of health inequality: geographic. Here in West Cumbria and in the other Success Regime regions, services are being moved great distances from the people they serve. (40, 50 or more miles for many patients). This will affect outcomes and, almost by definition is a reduction in access. If there was a national border between us and our removed services, or if we spoke another language or had a different religion, the discrimination would be obvious. Instead, the defining characteristic is where we live. That difference will not stop any preventable deaths or soften the lack of compassion generated by a round trip of 100 miles to visit a sick relative – perhaps for the last time.
    Excuses of safety do not work, as risk has simply been moved outside the hospital to an overstretched ambulance service. Cost savings will be wiped out by poorer outcomes, needing more costly care.